A carefully constructed pile of bodies greets a sell-out crowd at Roar presents Crave inside a northern Canberra gentlemen’s club.
Pulsing rhythms shake the walls of the club and bring the performers to life as the avant-garde, genre blending queer-led performance takes the enthusiastic crowd along for a wild ride where they are asked the question, what do you crave?
Featuring freestyle and pole dance, burlesque, camp elements of drag and other performance styles that fail to be defined as anything else other than entertaining, Roar presents Crave was the second production from Miriam Slater and Marlene Claudine Radice where they seek to further explore the beautiful, unique differences of gender and sexuality through performance art.
“It was very exciting, the show is bought together by the team, we don’t have a lot of time to prepare and it’s a lot of trust and collaboration from each other, we throw it on the stage and it was phenomenal,” Slater said backstage post-show.
“We decided the first show was going to be called Roar, we liked it as a means of speaking loudly in defiance and to speak up.
“So, there’s a few delicious words we thought for the second show and we though we’d keep up the theme going with Crave.
“And it’s such an open interpretation, when you think of crave you might think of something sexual but we also looked at it as the queer desire to crave intimacy and activity, so it was a broad, open theme for people to bring their skill sets and have a play.”
The surrealist start to the show continues, with the haunting sounds of a clarinet echoing through the space of the club, crowd interaction is encouraged, with some of those in the first row being lured in, as they sensually apply lip gloss to a performer.
A powerful and elegant pole and freestyle performance set to the orchestral sounds of Creep by Radiohead is next to grace the stage, with the powerful fluidity of the masked, winged performer on the pole and the floor, leaving the audience stunned.
Pumping bass and hip-hop change the energy of the room with a burlesque performer giving princess vibes, tiara included, as the line-up order keeps the audience on their toes, something that was desired from the outset according to Slater.
“We didn’t want to put a variety show on, we wanted to construct it a bit more, but we wanted to be specific styles and genres in and ask the artists if there was an idea you have not had a chance to put on stage yet, this was a safe environment to explore and play,” they said.
As a perfect showcase of what crave could mean, as the night started to hit its crescendo, with a hilarious act of a performer in a furry monkey suit seeing the object of their desire, that being a human-sized banana running through the audience, delighting the raucous crowd.
As if to underline the playfulness of the show, the final act saw the entire cast, drop sheet included, shower themselves and some of those consenting people in the first row with whipped cream, to bring the curtain down on the second but by no means the last show of its kind in Canberra.
Slater said given Crave sold out quickly, it could be run again in the near future.
However, they also hinted at grander plans for the production’s future as a means of trying to continue to create safe spaces for queer people and performers in the ACT.
“As queer people I think we need to find and make our spaces our own, nobody ‘s going to deliver it to us,” they said.
“So for example when we were able to come to Wanderlust the first time, we wanted to use an alternative space to activate and create something together, so it’s integral to hold space for each other, but it’s important to continue the hunt for our own spaces and sometimes you have to come into non-traditional spaces and declare ‘this is us and we have something to say’.”